No state body investigates theme park accidents

A parent has spoken out against the legal loophole after his daughter broke her neck at Tayto Park

No state body investigates theme park accidents

Cu Chulainn Coaster at Tayto Park launch. | Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

A father has expressed shock and concern over a legal loophole meaning theme park accidents in Ireland don't have to be investigated by state bodies.

Eoin Moran told RTÉ Prime Time programme that his 12-year-old daughter initially believed she had suffered whiplash after a ride on the Cú Chulainn rollercoaster at Tayto Park last August.

However, after four weeks in pain, she had an x-ray which revealed that her neck was broken.

"When she was x-rayed in Crumlin, the medical team reacted immediately that this was an emergency situation and she was in surgery twice over the next couple of days," Moran told the programme.

A gap in legislation means that no statutory body has the responsibility or authority to investigate health and safety incidents in theme parks and funfairs.

"We were shocked when we realised our child has a broken neck but we are shocked again to find that no statutory body is responsible, that no one is looking after the health of our children, that there is no oversight," Mr Moran said.

Reaction

Tayto Park management said in a statement that it is aware of an allegation of an injury on the Cu Chulainn Coaster.

"We have carried out a full investigation utilising CCTV footage, staff interviews etc and as a result of this Tayto Park will be defending this action rigorously," the statement reads. 

"Tayto Park is very proud of its Health and Safety standards ... Tayto Park has not received any other complaints from over 850,000 customers who have enjoyed the Cú Chulainn Coaster."

The HSA said the legislation it operates under does not stretch to the investigation of such incidents.

"We have to be able to make the link between the place of work and a work activity", they said in a statement. "In that circumstance we determined that it wasn’t a matter for the authority. We did not investigate that."

HSA Assistant Chief Executive Brian Higgisson said: "To my knowledge there is no other statutory body that would have a role to investigate in relation to a public safety incident in a fairground or funfair."

Housing, Planning and Local Government Minister Simon Coveney told the family that his Department is currently reviewing issues in relation to safety at funfairs, theme parks and community events.

Recommendations of a similar review ordered by then Minister Mary Harney 18 years ago had never been acted on.

 

The programme also revealed that no state authority has investigated the stairs collapse in the House of Horrors attraction in Tayto Park last October when nine people were taken to hospital.

New legislation

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation Niall Collins has published legislation to improve health and safety standards for funfairs users.

This draft legislation will enhance and strengthen current health and safety provisions for recreational users of funfairs provided in Ireland.

"These new proposals will put in place a framework in primary legislation outlining specific duties on funfair operators," he said.

"Such duties will ensure that the highest health and safety standards are in operation by funfair operators in order to minimise potential dangers to users. These will cover adequate user protections and warnings.

"Under these proposals any funfair equipment operator must ensure a duty of reasonable care to recreational users [...] Considering there have been fatalities and injuries in other jurisdictions, Ireland needs to strive for the highest health and safety protections for recreational users at funfairs."